Hallucinogenic Salvia now illegal in Oklahoma

Wichita Falls_Many people use a form of Saliva Divinorium to cook with, but what they may not know is that it can also be used as a hallucinogenic drug.  It's a derivative of the sage plant, and Oklahoma lawmakers have now made the herb illegal.

Police say it's a very dangerous drug that is exploding in popularity among teenagers.  7News interviewed both Wichita Falls Police and a store that sells Salvia in the area.  Both disagree about the dangers of the herb, but with the new law, they both expect an increase in business from customers north of the Red River.

It may look like something out of a kitchen spice rack, but it's much more than that.  "A lot of people think it's natural, it can't be that bad, but it's totally the opposite," says Wichita Falls Police Officer Jeff Hughes.  "Salvia is probably one of the most dangerous drugs out there because of what it can do to the brain."  Effects by user, and potency of the Saliva, may vary.  It's often smoked or chewed for a high.  "They actually feel they have the need to merge with certain objects, or they feel they've lived the life of somebody else from birth to death in their trips," says Hughes.  "They feel they're living life as an inanimate object, whether it be a chair or maybe even paint on a wall."

However, those who purchase the herb legally in Wichita Falls describe a different experience.  "It can range from being very giggly to audio and visual hallucinations, but it's different for everybody.  It really depends on body chemistry," says Salvia vendor Michelle Keen.  Her store has been selling the drug for about five years, but only recently has it come under scrutiny.  "Honestly, I think it's just because of all the publicity it's getting," she says.  "It's been used for hundreds of years in cultures in Mexico and America."

On YouTube you can find video of people under the influence of Salvia.  You can also purchase it on EBay in some states, and some stores consider it a safe alternative to illegal drugs.  "As long as it's used responsibly, yeah [it can be a safe alternative]," says Keen.  "You can't sell it to anyone under 18, of course, and we want to be sure to inform our customers not to drive while they're using it."

But, Wichita Falls Police hope Salvia won't be legal for too much longer.  "Hopefully, before too long, it's going to be illegal in all 50 states - as well as it should be," says Hughes.  By law, Salvia must be off of all Oklahoma shelves by November 1, 2008.